Email date: 9/26/07
In this update:
1. Latest campaign finance reports added to searchable database
2. Prosser has conflict of interest in Ziegler matter
3. Lawyers want State Bar to work to reform judicial campaigns
4. Nass rubs salt in students’ wounds
5. Take Action: Urge Doyle to call promised special session on reform
More than 9,000 new records of campaign donations to state officials and campaign committees in the first half of the year have been added to the Democracy Campaign’s searchable computer database of contributions. The updated database now includes donations to state campaigns through June 30, 2007.
The latest additions bring the total number of records in our database to more than 458,000.
One of the things the updated database shows is that state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser made a $250 donation to Annette Ziegler’s high court campaign on March 21 of this year. That was Prosser’s second $250 contribution to Ziegler; the first came last November. The second donation came more than two weeks after the first media report of Ziegler’s ethics problems, and two days after the Democracy Campaign made a formal request for an investigation by the state Judicial Commission.
We posted a blog last week asking how Prosser could possibly stand in judgment of Ziegler when her disciplinary proceeding comes before the Supreme Court, especially in light of the removal of an appeals court judge who gave Ziegler $100 last November from a three-judge panel that is reviewing the matter before it goes to the high court. That blog focused on the first of Prosser’s donations to Ziegler. The second one – made at a time when Prosser knew of the allegations against Ziegler and knew that if she were elected the Supreme Court could face for the first time in state history the possibility of having to decide whether to punish one of its own members for judicial misconduct – raises even more serious questions.
Wisconsin’s legal community has been characteristically circumspect when it comes to commenting publicly on Ziegler’s ethical problems. But the last Supreme Court election clearly made a big impression on the state’s lawyers, and it’s evident they don’t want a repeat performance. When new State Bar Association president Thomas Basting was sworn in, he got quite a reaction from his fellow attorneys when he expressed his commitment to working to reform how judicial elections are conducted.
In today’s Small Business Times, the Democracy Campaign’s director lists just a few of the most important reasons why the stalemate in state budget negotiations is harmful. One of them is the fact that some 5,000 college students don’t know whether they will receive financial aid. An aide to Representative Steve Nass made it clear to a student newspaper that Nass is not exactly sympathetic. On the contrary, the Whitewater Republican thinks having no state budget is a good thing.
From ethically challenged judges to a dysfunctional Legislature, the need for top-to-bottom reform is growing more evident by the day. If you couldn’t make it to last week’s Storm for Reform rally at the Capitol, please take the time to do what rally participants did and let Governor Doyle know that you expect him to keep his promise and call the Legislature into special session this fall to act on campaign reforms.